The Italian Football Federation made a pair of statements clarifying the national team’s stance
The Italian Football Federation (FIGC) has confirmed that the national team will take the knee as a sign of solidarity if their next opponents Belgium choose to do so, but says doing so is not in support of the Black Lives Matter campaign.
The statement comes after centre-back Giorgio Chiellini said that the team would kneel if an opponent did so.
Amid confusion on whether players were free to kneel, the federation backed that viewpoint, saying that taking the knee will be done to show solidarity with their opponents.
What was said?
“As Chiellini explained, the team will kneel in solidarity with the opponents,” the federation said, according to La Repubblica.
“Not for the campaign itself, which we don’t share. The Austrian players didn’t kneel and ours remained standing. If those from Belgium do so, ours too will in solidarity with them.”
The FIGC went on to add in a second statement: “The Italian Football Federation, in reaffirming its unconditional stance against racism and any form of discrimination, considered it opportune to give the team freedom to adhere to the ‘Black Lives Matter’ campaign.
“As President Gabriele Gravina already affirmed not more than a week ago, the FIGC considers the imposition of any behaviour in itself a form of speaking and sustains the squad’s decision for Euro 2020 games, including against Belgium on Friday.
“The sensibility of each member of the Italian national team in defence of human rights is in the Azzurri DNA, as proven by multiple initiatives and declarations, and cannot be subordinated by the adherence to one – not the only – manifestation of support for the fight against racism.”
What has happened so far?
To date, there has been confusion about Italy’s stance as only a handful of players took the knee prior to the team’s group stage match against Wales.
Andrea Belotti, Matteo Pessina, Emerson Palmieri, Rafael Toloi and Federico Bernardeschi all knelt alongside the entire Wales team, prompting a discussion on how Italy would handle such situations going forward.
After the incident, former Prime Minister Enrico Letta slammed the players that did not kneel, saying: “I appeal to our players to take the knee all together. Five took the knee and the others didn’t – frankly, it was not a good spectacle.
“If they can all agree on the tactical plan in the dressing room beforehand, maybe they can do the same about taking the knee. It’s a positive gesture. Looking at it on Sunday, with all the Wales players kneeling and only half the Italian players doing it, was not a good image.”
His frustrations were echoed by former Italy star Claudio Marchisio.
“There’s freedom of choice, but this is a very important protest, and I would have preferred everyone to kneel down,” he told RAI Sport.
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